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Legal rebels recognized by ABA

Rochester’s own “legal technology evangelist,” Nicole Black, was featured Tuesday as a “Legal Rebel” at, the Web site of the American Bar Association’s flagship magazine.
Black, who writes a weekly column for The Daily Record, and boasts a large presence online, is identified on the site as the “Boss of Blogs.” She is among 50 attorneys nationwide being profiled in the series by journalist Rachel M. Zahorsky.
Other featured “Legal Rebels” include fellow blogger Mike Dillon, general counsel to Sun Microsystems; Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, who advocates for a single national bar exam and Evan R. Chesler, presiding partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, who wrote an article for Forbes titled, “Kill the Billable Hour.”
Black acknowledged in an interview this week that practicing law is “not the vast majority of what I do right now.”
She primarily is a writer working on a couple of books, and speaker about technology for law firms. But she defended her legal credentials against a recent online attack.
The Syracuse native moved west to attend the University of Rochester, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in religion with a minor in psychology in 1992. Three years later she graduated from Albany College Union School of Law and returned to Rochester for a year-long internship with the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.
She said she was hired soon after arguing an appeal that successfully overturned a murder conviction in the matter of People v. Sierra, 231 AD2d 907, 647 NYS2d 891 (Fourth Dept. 1996).
Black entered private practice with the Rochester law firm Trevett, Cristo, Salzer & Andolina PC in 1999 and was a year away from making partner when she left to have her first child in 2002, she said.
Reluctant to return to law firm practice, she entered the blogosphere in November 2005 and set up shop as a contract attorney. Since then she has become of counsel to the Rochester law firm of Fiandach & Fiandach and co-authored (with Brighton Town Justice Karen Morris) Criminal Law in New York, a West Thomson treatise.
She maintains four active blogs and has had six speaking engagements in the past three months, according to information on her site, She started that site earlier this year as a technology consulting business for law firms, businesses and public relations professionals.
Black said her love affair with technology began long before law school, when she learned how to use the BASIC programming language in the early 1980s. Later she met her husband, a nurse at the University of Rochester, through an online chat room in the 1990s.
Now she is on a mission to unite the practice of law with 21st century technology — not only for herself, but for the legal profession, she said.
“It’s going to have to happen because Gen Y is coming,” Black said Tuesday.
The next generation of lawyers will demand a more flexible, client-centric practice, she said. “Technology can help them do that.”
“Every lawyer has a job to exercise due diligence before taking on new technology — but keeping what they have and not [updating] it is not due diligence,” Black said.
She encouraged practitioners to read her new book on social media, published by the ABA, as well as online blogs and legal conferences.
Although there are few books on the subject of legal technology, Black cited several online resources for interested attorneys.
In addition to her own blog at, she recommended several Web sites for attorneys ready to update their technology skills, including the ABA’s Legal Technology Center, http://www.aba; Internet Cases, http://blog.; This Week in Law Podcast, and’s legal tech articles: nology/index.jsp.
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